Those who keep a watchful eye on where their money is spent, have long conquered the kitchen woes. No last minute panic trips to the market. No longer needing the "give-the-kids-$20-for-fast-food" solution. This is no longer a problem or even a concern for the "Kitchen Master".
You too can be a 'Master Of Your Kitchen'. All it takes is a little time and planning!
Now you might be saying "I don't have time to plan meals, let alone control my kitchen!" That's fine. Wait until you do have some time.
All you need is just a couple of hours some Saturday or Sunday where you can really "dive" into your kitchen.
Where To Start
Start from scratch. Clean out ALL those cupboards, shelves, racks, pantries, etc.... At some point, you'll want to do the same to your refrigerator and freezer. You must! This is VALUABLE storage space that will save you hundreds off your grocery bills if they are properly put to use.
Kitchens were designed to act as 'mini-supermarkets'. Everything you need to prepare meals your family can enjoy morning, noon, and night. Once it is setup, you can accommodate quite a number of meals, without having to go to the market every other day!
Once The Cleaning Is Done
Now that everything is cleaned and your current supplies organized, you'll need to inventory what you have. What this means is to list out what you have, and what you need to get.
Ideally, you should have at least 2-4 weeks of meals available at your disposal. Why? This will reduce the number of trips to the market and help minimize overspending and impulse buying.
What helps is if you list foods and meals you know your family likes (and would) eat. These are the items you need to stock your kitchen pantry and frig with.
With this approach, you use your cupboards, pantries, and shelves to your advantage. Whenever you come across great bargains on items you use, buy more than usual, and store the rest. Cans of tuna for 40 cents each, buy a lot. Boxes of macaroni and cheese for 50 cents each, buy a lot.
Sugar, cheese, spaghetti, rice, pasta, bread, meat, cereal, fruit, chicken, sauces, canned foods, vegetables, boxed foods. These are just a few examples of items than can be stored in your pantry, refrigerator, or freezer (depending on what it is) for a reasonable amount of time.
You know you are running low on an item by simply opening your well organized pantry and determining what needs to be restocked.
Planning Your Meals
Now that your kitchen has been cleaned and well stocked, it's time to put it to use.
It works best if you plan the following days meals, the night before. This is not hard or very time consuming. Five minutes before going to bed, simply open your cupboards and see what you can plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the following day.
Start off just planning one day at a time. Later, as you adjust to this style of living, you'll be able to plan the whole week just by looking at the contents within your kitchen.
What also is a must is creativity. Try to steer away from traditional hamburger and hot dog meals. Get creative with your meals. There are literally hundreds of different combinations that can be made to give you and your family the variety they need.
For example, think of all the combinations you can put together with rice or potatoes (ie: rice and vegetables, rice and beans, rice with chicken, rice and soup, rice with eggrolls, etc...) And that's just with rice! You have a ton of options. Take the time to think of, or search for some.
Here are a few websites that offer a number of recipes and cooking ideas:
The whole goal of this exercise is to eliminate unnecessary trips and excessive spending at the market in addition to creatively using what you have in your kitchen to prepare meals for the week/month.The more times you go to the market, the more chances you have of spending your money on foods you may not need.
Organize and master your kitchen, plan out your meals, stock your storage areas, and you can save $100-$400 a month (depending on your spending habits ;-)
Best of luck mastering your kitchen!
Gregory Thomas has been writing effective money-saving tips for SavingSecrets.com for over six years. Hop on over and you'll find FREE money-saving articles, a monthly newsletter, and even a FREE Ebook download just for stopping by! http://www.SavingSecrets.com